East Pointers Head West - blog post image

East Pointers Head West

Mark from Haze managed to tap the phone of banjoist Koady Chaisson from the JUNO Award-winning band - The East Pointers ahead of their upcoming gig at the Metropole Katoomba on Sat Dec 9.

Queenscliff Music Festival

Koady: Yeah, we're heading down to play Queenscliff Music Fest this weekend so we're doing a pit stop in Geelong for coffee.

Mark: Oh, not a bad place to stop at all!

Koady: Yeah, exactly.

Mark: They know how to do it down there in Victoria.

Koady: Yeah, from what I hear they're the masters. I don't know how that sounds from somebody from somewhere else.

Mark: Well, we sort of admit it up here. We say, you know, "Melbourne is better at food, at coffee, they're better at music." You know, I'm not sure why, we're a little bit jealous so we'll just let them have it.

Koady: At least you guys have the Blue Mountains, yeah?

Mark: That's right. We're lucky up here actually, just tucked away from Sydney.

Australia vs Canada?

Mark: I was just going to ask you – do you find similarities between where you're from in Canada and Australia?

Koady: Yeah, yeah definitely. It's funny, a few years ago, Kim the girl who plays in the band she had a solo singer/songwriter career before the band started and she toured through Australia quite a bit. One of the festivals that we did, because I used to play bass in a band, was the Queenscliff Music Festival. When ever we drove into Queenscliff there was everybody, and there was so much of this little community that grew. And I think, you know, we don't have the reefs, obviously. The beautiful reefs that you guys have but a lot of the beaches are somewhat similar. The water is definitely a lot colder back home but I think what we have most in common is the people. That laid back, just 'live and let live' mentality and I think it's something that we share in common between the two places.

Canadian laughs with Aussies? 

Koady: Yeah, similar sense of humour.

Mark: Yeah, that's true, and-

Koady: Not everywhere you go in the world gets your sense of humour but certainly Australians get it.

From Bass to Banjo

Mark: Can you take me back to when it was that you decided, "I'm going to be a banjo player," or get into this Celtic folk music?

Koady: Yeah, well, we all say the east coast of Canada is a bit of a melting pot with different Celtic divisions that came over from Europe back in the day. The music that we play has been passed down in our family for six or seven generations, and for the most part that was fiddle and dancing, and guitar, piano. But you know just ... I would say trying, always trying different instruments, you know. I played a lot of mandolin, growing up and bass, and the banjo is actually the most recent of the instruments I  took to that probably eight or nine years ago, just on a whim and just absolutely fell in love with it. I think most people in our family back home ... you know Tim and I have come through a pretty musical family on the East Coast of Canada. Everybody in the family can do something musically, whether it's their great singers or their a fiddle player or a mandolin player or a guitar player. It's definitely a musical family.

One, any or every (instrument)?

Mark: I guess it's nice having those instruments available for you to have a go at. Whereas, a lot of families would grow up without music. They might try a guitar or piano and wouldn't even think to branch out into these amazing other instruments that are out there.

Koady: Totally. Totally. I think there's so many ... We're lucky that the day and age we live in that instruments are fairly easy to come by.

Full sound, songwriting & collaborating with Aussie Liz Stringer

Mark: You get quite a full sound out of all these different instruments. It's amazing what you can do with three people. I guess, for me three is sort of that magic number where four people in a band's maybe too many ...  When you're songwriting do you guys do that together because there's just three of you or do you bring songs individually?

Koady: Well it's kind of, yeah we tend to write as a unit, collectively. I think we always do our best work ... I mean we do ... We write all the instrumental pieces that we play as well. Sometimes with the instrumentals you take a piece of work to the other two members of the band and it could be 90% finished or 80% finished, and you try to work on it from there.

But with the songs we usually start from scratch and we've got a song on the record we wrote with Liz Stringer from Melbourne.

So yeah we're not opposed to bringing in other people to break away from solace! Its just a lot of fun, it's a collaborative approach. And then you know you have that connection with somebody that's not in the band, that you know that you wouldn't necessarily have otherwise.

New record ‘What We Leave Behind’

Mark: Yeah and its interesting, because you can hear these distinct styles within the record, there's ups and downs, and I guess that's the personalities coming through in each song, is it?

Koady: Yeah yeah, and I think you know its kind of ... the record dictates in some sort of way what we try to do in a live show, which is, you know, not just have everything super intense the whole time. Its not going to be super-dancey the entire time, we try to bring it down, just a little bit of a wave to cover as much emotions as we can. Like upbeat and dance tunes, and songs that are a bit more reflective, and I know personally, those are always my favourite shows to go to is when you go see a band and they have that music that makes you want to dance then they have that music that makes you want to think. You know that's something we take pretty seriously is trying to encompass as much of that as possible.

Stage presence

Mark: And does something work better for example you're playing some pretty big festivals, as well as shows like Katoomba where its a small room. Does it all work the same no matter where you are?

Koady: Yeah I think for the most part it works the same… like this weekend for example at Queenscliff we're at the Folk Festival. You know we might not play as many of those thoughtful, reflective pieces as the you know dancey tunes, because people at  festivals tend to get down and move. We try to play to that, we try to keep people happy!

Mark: And you'll be playing with Hot Potato Band, you gotta keep it fairly upbeat for that audience!

Koady: Yeah, yeah exactly.

Going with Nashville for the record

Mark: Can you tell us a little bit about why you chose the Nashville studio in particular? You know there's a bit of a heritage with that one.

Koady: Yeah it's The Sound Emporium. It’s kind of one of those studios as a musician growing up in North America you know you heard about it your whole life. You know it was there before I was born, it's just one of those places that you know ... the sounds that you can get out of the rooms are ... you know there's a reason why its so popular and its been used by so many of the biggest artists in the world. And I think that we chose that in part because our producer Gordie Sampson, he's based in Nashville now. And he's an East Coast Canadian boy, but he moved to Nashville probably ten years ago, to just do the songwriting full time and produce it.

So that was part of the deal, was head down there. And he chose the studio for us, he said, "you know I feel with the instruments that you play and what not, I think this is a good spot for you". So yeah, it was a nice, it was an amazing experience recording there and you know just walking around the studio and just seeing  the plaques on the wall, all the plaques and albums that were recorded in the same rooms that we were in – its definitely inspiring.

Mark: Yeah I guess being in that environment probably affects the way you're even playing. You're thinking, "we're in this legendary studio, we gotta do our best".

Koady: Yeah, you definitely wanna take your "A" game when you're at the studio for sure. We had a lot of fun. We did it fairly quick ... we recorded the instrumentals over three days in the studio. You know so it was pretty in and out. We did most of it live off the floor, you know, all the tunes on the record we play it all in the same room, at the same time. So we didn't get into the isolation booths - we just didn't have time.

How Secret Victory (2015) compares with new record

Mark: You've come up with a fantastic record and it's leaps forward in many ways from your first record which was fantastic too.

Koady: This record is kind of a stamp on where we are musically, you know in 2017. It's one of those things where if you want to come across genuine on stage, you have to play music that respects you and respects the music that you're passionate about.

Koady: Yeah and I think that's what we tried to accomplish on the record.

Pop and David Bowie

Mark: I think and there's a little bit more, I guess you'd call it pop, in there, a bit more accessible for some people that maybe wouldn't listen to straight out Celtic folk. And I've just actually stumbled across you doing this David Bowie cover on-line. was that a deliberate direction or its obviously just your personalities coming through?

Koady: Yeah, you know, David Bowie passed away in 2016 and we were playing the Winnipeg Folk Festival, one of the big folk festivals in Canada. And they were doing a tribute to him and they asked us to learn a song, we could kind of pick if we wanted to play a Prince song, or any David Bowie song, and we all loved "Heroes" growing up so, that's kind of the reason why we learned it, but we've been doing it most of our lives, it was just because everybody knows it and it's such an amazing song. And it's just fun to do. Fun to sing-a-long.

Goodbyes and 120 cousins?

Mark: Well I might let you get back to your coffee there. I was just going to ask you one quick, I guess album-title related question, "For What We Leave Behind", which is ... what is it that you most miss when you leave Canada behind while touring?

Koady: My niece's and nephew's!!

Mark: Hey is it true.. I heard something about 120 cousins or something ... have you really got such a big family?

Koady: Yeah that's no word of a lie. I have 120 first cousins back home, and they all, you know, most of them live in this tiny little town and yeah, no, that's the truth.


Mark: Well at least that's 120 albums sold as soon as it's released!! Thanks and see you in Katoomba.



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THE EAST POINTERS In concert @ The Metropole Guesthouse (Cnr of Lurline and Gang Gang Streets, Katoomba).

Saturday 9th December, doors open at 5 pm.

For more info head to

Pic: The East Pointers on stage. Taken by Kurt Petersen ( 

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